Political Climate with Mark Simon: Nobody really knows how this election will go

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

It’s Election Day and in San Mateo County, no one really knows how this is going to go.

We are venturing far into the unknown in San Mateo County, one of five counties in the state that is nearly all vote-by-mail, and no one knows how many voters will turn up, and whether they will skew the political leanings of traditional turnouts.

County elections chief Mark Church told Political Climate he’s projecting a 35 percent voter turnout, a significant jump over the 27 percent turnout in 2014, the last non-presidential, statewide primary election.

But Church acknowledged that it’s all just guesswork because of the unique nature of this election.

As of this morning, about 100,000 ballots had been sent in by mail or turned into the dozens of ballot drop-off stations set up by Church’s office, with two more pick-ups scheduled. That’s nearly 26 percent of the 388,000 ballots mailed out a month ago.

In 2014, the statewide turnout was 25 percent, the lowest in the state’s history for a primary election.

If San Mateo County turnout goes up while everywhere else’s turnout is going down, that’s going to be a significant shot in the arm for those who want statewide all-mail ballots.

Meanwhile, some of these state and local races appear to be close and it’s not too late for you to fill out your ballot and drop it a number of locations. You can find them here. If you can’t find your ballot, you can vote at these places.

Either way, it’s your last chance to show up. Or as veteran Democratic consultant Richie Ross likes to say, “Shut up and vote.”

HUNTER TIPS OFF: Veteran community volunteer Rick Hunter formally began his campaign for Redwood City Council Thursday with an event at the Mount Carmel home of Jane and Paul Taylor attended by more than 50 supporters.

Positioning himself as an independent centrist, Hunter said one of his “major themes … will be balance. There are loud voices on all sides of some issues. Some think if you compromise, you’re selling out. I disagree with that. I think that working with both sides, looking for the best solutions wherever they may come from – while sticking with your core values – that’s where the hard work happens. And that’s how you solve problems.”

Hunter said he would dive more deeply into the issues facing the city as the campaign unfolds. But, while speaking in glowing terms about a Redwood City that is prosperous and “is thriving and doing great,” he did single out housing as a major problem caused by the economic boom.

“I fully embrace the call for affordable housing, but I want to go further,” Hunter said. “I want to broaden the idea to include what I call housing that people can afford.”

Hunter, and his long-active wife, Naomi, raised three sons in Redwood City. The youngest, Chris, is about to graduate from UCLA (and was on hand to introduce his father at the campaign event.) All of their sons are college-educated and face promising professional careers. None of them can afford to return to Redwood City, he said.

“We, and many of our friends, dream of them coming back here to raise their families. But as things stand now, even though their careers are off to a good start, they doubt they will be able to live here,” Hunter said.

Hunter comes to the council race with a long resume of community activism, including the Planning Commission, the Parks and Recreation Commission and treasurer of the Redwood City Education Foundation. Those on hand reflected that activism: Councilwomen Janet Borgens and Diane Howard, the latter up for re-election this year; Planning Commission Chair Nancy Radcliffe, Vice Chair Kevin Bondonno and member Ernie Schmidt; Sequoia Union High School Trustee Georgia Jack; Redwood City Elementary School District Trustee Alisa McAvoy; and former Council members Brent Britschgi and Georgi Laberge.

Prominently there was former Councilwoman Barbara Pierce, who is running Hunter’s campaign, as well as Howard’s re-election campaign. She praised Hunter for his collaborative spirit. “He knows how to come up with solutions that work for everyone,” she said.

Normally, events like these are known as campaign kickoffs, but tip-off might have been more appropriate. Unfortunate timing put Hunter’s event in conflict with the first game of the Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Final. Nonetheless. Hunter appeared pleased with the turnout, although the crowd shouted down one supporter’s attempt to provide an update on the game’s first half score.

STEVE PENNA: The publisher of The Spectrum monthly Redwood City publication was at Hunter’s event last week. Penna was recording Hunter’s remarks, standing quietly in the back, underneath a tree.

The next day, he was gone, a seeming impossibility for this larger-than-life personality. His death sent shockwaves through the community and devastated his family and his enormous circle of close friends with whom he collaborated on countless projects for the betterment of his beloved city.

He publicly wrestled with some of his own demons – his continuing fight to get his weight and his health under control, his abiding desire to partner with someone in his life. He had a definite view about what Redwood City should be and that manifested itself in his monthly column and, more tellingly, in a range of civic activities and good works that was unrivaled.

It is possible no one loved Redwood City as much as Steve Penna.

Contact Mark Simon at mark@climaterwc.com.

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.